I bought the book Four Plays by playwright Chong Tze Chien to prepare for a class presentation of one his play, Charged, a few weeks ago. Charged was poignant to read and better to watch, which I did, on a video recording of it at the Esplanade Library. Thus, I was delighted that as part of the Contemporary Classics Season by The Finger Players, a company owned by Chong, Poop! was staged last weekend at the Victoria Theatre.
I didn’t read Poop!, although it was one of the plays included in the book, and mistook it as a comedy. I mean, you can’t blame me right, with a title like that?
This play is a sob drama. My date that night, son Ivan, told me a woman was sobbing throughout. I didn’t notice, so caught up in the drama that I could have been sobbing myself. Poop! is a clever theatrical play of clever lighting to nudge the audience to the focus on stage – a leaf that is flying, an NTUC plastic bag fluttering in the wind, a face without the body, likewise a hand or legs. To emphasize on this play of light, there is a short performance of Indonesian wayang kulit as the protagonist Emily imagine playing with her father.
Emily’s father leaped to his death when she was five. Her grandmother tries to dispel the gloom in the family by being cheerful and making up stories to explain the father’s disappearance and to make up for the mother’s anguish. The family’s ordeal is made worse by Emily getting cancer, but Emily herself is unaffected and remains her cheerful self. She sees ghosts around, especially her late father when she’s sitting on the toilet bowl trying to poop. The father-daughter pair continues their relationship as she grows up fighting the cancer, then finally succumbs to it.
Kudos to the wonderful actors, the same original cast from 2009 production – Jean Ng as a very believable young Emily, Neo Swee Lin as Granny, Julius Foo as Daddy and Janice Koh as Mummy.
I can’t wait to watch more of Chong’s play.